5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Fraud this Holiday Season
While Christmas may be the most “wonderful time of the year,” it’s also the best time of the year for scammers and thieves. With more people shopping online every year, it’s a great way for them to steal your credit card numbers, your identity and more. You’re not powerless though! There are a few simple things that you can do to protect yourself from theft this year and still be able to shop online to grab the deals that you want.
- Only shop reputable sites – By limiting your shopping to sites that you are familiar with, you limit the chance that someone will steal your card numbers. Sites like Amazon, Walmart, JCP.com and more are perfect examples. We’re all familiar with them and know that their security protocols are much stricter than a small, less well known site.
- Be sure that your computer is infection free – By using an anti-spyware application and running it before you shop, you ensure that your computer is free from spyware or key loggers that may be used to steal your card numbers and more. I personally use a combo of Avast Professional and Malwarebytes Pro. Both of them do offer free versions, but I would rather pay a few bucks and KNOW that I am protected versus downloading a free version and being unsure. If you’re looking for something else, Webroot is also a great program that isn’t too expensive.
- Shop with a pre-paid card – Using a prepaid card like a pre-paid Master Card is a great way to protect yourself when shopping online. For more of them, you can add money without ever connecting your checking account so that you are 100% protected from anyone getting access to your checking account that shouldn’t be. Most of these cards have a small monthly fee that they charge, but overall, it is well worth the cost to make sure that you’re protected. I actually use one all year round for any shopping that I have to do online.
- Monitor your credit – Sign up with a site like Credit Concierge and keep an eye on your credit during the holidays. Credit Concierge is totally free to sign up for and use and they offer free credit monitoring. Keeping an eye on that will let you know if someone has potentially tried to open an account with your info or if they have succeeded in getting that account open. If this happens, you can quickly red flag your account and begin working to get that account shut down and any debt removed from your account.
- Use cash when shopping in store – Last year’s Target fiasco should be a good reminder that shopping with cash is always best. Their system was hacked and only debit card numbers from in store shoppers were at risk. To protect yourself this year, only use cash when you’re shopping in store. Shopping this way has an added benefit too. If you’ve only got cash on you? You can’t overspend.